Briton arrested over cafe carnage
BANGLADESHI police have formally arrested a British national allegedly involved in the deadly Islamist attack on a cafe in Dhaka that killed 22 people last month.
Hasnat Karim, a 47-year-old Briton, had initially been detained along with Tahmid Khan, 22, a University of Toronto student, as a suspect in the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State group.
A court on August 13 ordered Mr Karim to be remanded in custody for eight more days after police said he was the “first person” to be formally arrested over the attack.
Mr Karim and Mr Khan were both inside the Holey Artisan Bakery when gunmen raided the cafe on the night of July 1, taking a group of mainly Western diners hostage and then killing 20 of them, along with two policemen.
Police had sought to hold Mr Karim for 10 more days, saying the father of two should be questioned further as he was now the “first person to have been arrested in the case”.
“We have found some information regarding his involvement in that incident,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesperson Masudur Rahman said.
Mr Karim and Mr Khan were last week arrested under a law which allows the police to detain someone on suspicion of any crime but they were not directly linked to the attack.
Mr Karim’s lawyer maintained he was innocent. “We’ve said that he was a victim of circumstances. He was used as a body shield and forced to walk with the attackers at gunpoint,” Golam Mostafa said.
Neither Mr Karim nor Mr Khan have been seen in public since the end of the siege when commandos stormed the cafe on July 2.
The men’s families have said they were being held by security forces even though there was no evidence to link them to the attackers.
Mr Karim’s father Rezaul Karim last week said his son had helped save lives during the siege.
“My son was a hero. He saved the life of at least eight people during the siege. I know him. He is innocent.”
Relatives say Mr Karim, his wife and two children were at the cafe to celebrate the 13th birthday of their daughter.
Mr Karim was a lecturer at NorthSouth University in Dhaka, where two of the five attackers who were gunned down at the end of the siege had studied. –
Hasnat Karim’s family deny he was involved in a cafe attack.